After visiting the now defunct Troubadour White City last year to see Peter Pan, it seemed appropriate to drive out in our two-person bubble to our neighbouring borough of Brent to go to its sister venue in Wembley.
This is my second indoor show since lockdown and my fourth over-all. I’m taking it slowly because we are still in a pandemic and safety is still paramount. Venues are to be applauded for doing their best to keep both employees and punters safe.
At Sleepless the venue has been trimmed down to 400 audience members, appropriately distanced and wearing masks. It all feels very safe and sensible, and as the cast are in a bubble themselves, with daily testing, they can touch and act on stage as if everything is normal.
The sweet tale of widowed dad Sam (Jay McGuiness) and romantic reporter Annie (Kimberley Walsh) is based on the hit 1993 film Sleepless in Seattle. Made into a musical by Robert Scott and Brendan Cull (a pair flying a flag for new British musicals), with a book by Michael Burdette, this production was aborted at the dress rehearsal stage in the spring.
Now it’s back. Paper-thin in plot it may be, but Morgan Young’s production makes up for it with bags of charm and technical detail: from the banner details of time, place and architecture to the occasional dreamy dance breaks.
Annie’s mom (Harriet Thorpe) is a dreamer reflecting back on her happy marriage, and her boyfriend Walter (Daniel Casey) is – to continue the Affair to Remember metaphor – the Ralph Bellamy to the Cary Grant Annie and her editor Beth (Tania Mathurin) hanker after. A nice, solid, dependable (if a little neurotic) man – but no oomph.
There’s a great child part too in young Jonah, who wants his dad to be happy and moves heaven and earth to make it happen. I think we saw Jobe Harr this afternoon: I loved his number with Sam’s friend Rob (Cory English) which hinted at the “Good Morning” number in Singin’ in the Rain.
Sleepless a Musical Romance continues at the Troubadour Wembley Park until 27 September. Book here.
Image credit: Alastair Muir